Confessions of a lion dance troupe member

Confessions of a lion dance troupe member

If you're a newbie to lion dance, you probably wouldn't last one minute performing as the "head" of the lion.

And it has nothing to do with skill or stamina.

It's the smell.

"People who are new to lion dance find (the smell) quite disgusting. They're shocked and want to get out immediately," says a troupe member who has been dancing for the past 10 years, with a chuckle.

The troupe member, who wanted to be known as Larry, explains that the lion heads are never washed.

So the stench - a combination of perspiration, grime and body odour - is enough to make the unacquainted nauseated.

And no, sunning the apparatus, dousing it in freshener or wiping it down doesn't help.

Larry's troupe is not being named as the details here could get him into trouble.

He gives The New Paper on Sunday (TNPS) a behind-the-scenes look at this popular art form, which came to Singapore in the 1820s and is closely linked to clan associations.

In the past, lion dance troupes have had strong ties with secret societies and gangs that are prone to violence.

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